Every so often I see a thread in the business section of the Etsy forums asking if anyone has ever had a sale from the promotions section, which inevitably draws a volley of mocking negative replies. The promotions threads, so the story goes, are a horrific waste of time.
And yet almost all of my sales have been directly from people I met in the promotion section. What is my secret, you may ask?
The key is in the sentence above. My sales have been to people I have met in the promotion threads. In order to meet people, you have to talk to them. In my experience there are two attitudes toward promotion threads–one of which is not likely to get you any sales, the other one will. The first I call “promotion as advertising,” the second “promotion as networking.”
- Promotion as Advertising. This is the famous “post and run” situation. You wander into a thread called “Post your Newest” or “Show me something Chartreuse.” You just happen to have listed a Chartreuse Knitted Gumball Cozy that afternoon, so you post the link in both those threads without looking at any of the previous posts in. Your name and your link are out there! Your job is done. The item is sure to sell any minute, right? Wrong. Advertising is all well and good, and it is important to raise the visibilty of your items and your shop. The problem is that in order to raise visibilty, you have to put your item out where people are going to look at it. And if you didn’t bother to look at the Chartreuse Mold Scented Soap that was posted by the previous shop, chances are no one is going to look at your Gumball Cozy either. It is the equivilent of running into an empty room, shouting your name, and then leaving before anyone else comes in to say hello.
- Promotion as Networking. If on the other hand, you treat the promotion threads as opportunities for networking you will have much better luck. Each thread is full of actual people who, if they get the chance to get to know you, might turn out to be your best support. But in order for that to work, you have to read what other people have posted, click on their links, and then come back to the thread and comment on their items. Now, when you open a promotion thread with 43,000 posts, you certainly don’t need to read all of them. Go ahead, click on the last page of the thread and ignore the preceding 4000 pages. But when you get to that last page read and comment on those postings. If you want to make a really great impression, comment on someone else’s item before posting yours. People will be much more likely to actually look at your item if you are also looking at theirs.
Now, not all threads are conducive to networking. After all, if everyone else is treating a thread as a post-and-run advertisement then no matter how many items you look at chances are no one will look at yours. It only takes a minute to look over the last one or two pages of a thread to determine which kind you are dealing with. If it is a post-and-run thread–by all means, through down your link and leave. Can’t hurt, right? But if it is networking thread, then get comfortable, stay awhile and chat. You will meet some wonderful people!
Guidelines for networking in a promotion thread:
- Do not post and run! And most especially, do not post and run in the same thread more than once. The first time you do it a few people may look since networking threads tend to have a dedicated core of people who stop by and look at whatever has been posted. If, however, people notice you posting and running repeatedly they will stop looking at your shop.
- Pay attention to what threads you have posted in before. Again, most networking threads have a dedicated core of people, or at least an OP that makes a point of looking at every shop that has been posted. If you come in and say “Hi, my name is AwesomeGumball please check out my shop!” every couple of days, it looks bad. When you come back to the same thread again, say “Hey everyone! Nice to see you. I’ve just added this Chartreuse Gumball Cozy to my shop.”
- Say hello. A link without a greeting will get no views.
- Be conversational. Talk to the people in the thread like you talk to your friends, not the way you would write up an add.
- Make friends! Come back to the same thread over and over. Talk to the same people over and over. They may not buy your items immediately, but they might buy them eventually.
Promotion threads, even when done right, will not get you a sale a day or any other kind of high ranking sales statistics. If you are looking for breadth of impact, the promotion threads are not the place to look. But if you are looking for depth of connections, they can be great! You will make friends who may buy from you, or recommend you to their friends, or write up blog posts about you, or put you in treasuries, or support you in any number of ways. You can’t get that kind of support if you post and run.